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February 19, 2004 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-19

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Thursday
February 19, 2004
sports.rmichigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily. corn

cJbe 1Jirtitw Jtt Bi,
IPORTS

8A

s

Making a

(Penn)

Blue rebounds
with rout of
NittanyLions
By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Editor
It's amazing what a visit from Penn State can do
for a struggling team.
Fresh off two difficult road losses, Michigan took
full advantage of a visit from the hapless Nittany
Lions and cruised to a 76-53
-victory. ENN STATE 53
The first game of a critical MICHIGAN 761
four-game homestand, last
night's victory was essential for the Wolverines.
"It felt like it's been a long time since we've actu-
ally won one," Michigan guard Daniel Horton said.
"I mean, we only lost two in a row. But it feels great
. to get this one, and now we've got to get ready for
Wisconsin on Sunday."
Up just six, 35-29, a minute into the second half,
Michigan (5-6 Big Ten, 14-8 overall) began to assert
itself on the defensive end. Increased defensive pres-
sure allowed the Wolverines to turn up the tempo on
offense, leading to several easy baskets and a 29-11
run that would span the next 10 minutes.
Senior Bernard Robinson set the pace for Michi-
gan throughout its second-half surge. The veteran
played one of his most complete games of the sea-
son, notching 11 points, eight assists and seven
rebounds.
Robinson began the Michigan spurt with an
impressive play, knocking the ball loose, then out-
hustling four Nittany Lions to come up with a steal.
He quickly pushed the Wolverines into transition,
finishing the sequence with a no-look pass to guard
Lester Abram for an uncontested layup.
Robinson sunk a 3-pointer two minutes later, and
followed that up with yet another no-look setup to
Abram, who drained a three of his own. At that
point, Michigan led 45-31, and the rout was on.
"I told our players that Bernard really set the tone
for us in the second half," Michigan coach Tommy

Statement
Cagers take care of business,
but road gets tougher ahead

0

DAN ROSEN
Days Of Thunder
How desperate was Michigan to grab a
win yesterday over Penn State and stop
the bleeding?
After two straight road losses - one to
a struggling Minnesota team, and the
other to Iowa - the Wolverines had to
take care of business against the Nittany
Lions to keep their postseason hopes
alive.
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker even
broke into his closet to try and change his
team's fortunes. He had been sporting a
polo shirt for the first 21 games of the
season. Last night, he wore a blazer.
"I thought I'd give it a shot," Amaker
said. "We weren't winning without it, so I
gave it a look."
The team followed Amaker's lead, tak-
ing care of business when it needed to the
most.
The Wolverines played unselfishly.
Amaker set the bar at 20 assists before the
game, and they almost got there, coming
up just four short.
Even so, they had five more assists than
turnovers. Most noticeably, Michigan pro-
tected a lead in the second half.
After taking an 11-point edge over
Minnesota at halftime last week, Michi-
gan was run out of the gym in the second
half en route to a three-point defeat.
Against Iowa, the team held a slim four-
point lead at the break. The Wolverines
lost by eight.

Last night, they had no choice but to
change their second-half fortunes. Anoth-
er blown lead would have been devastat-
ing.
"We've been harping on it at halftime
the last couple of games, we just haven't
been doing it," senior Bernard Robinson
said.
The difference seemed to be defensive
pressure. Michigan kept it up yesterday,
hounding the Nittany Lions around the
perimeter, and that kept Penn State at bay.
The Wolverines even broke out a full-
court press with 10 minutes left and a 20-
plus point lead.
"We really wanted to keep extending
the floor," Amaker said.
Penn State doesn't have a deep team.
By making the Nittany Lions work so
hard on offense, the Wolverines seemed to
tire them out and, most importantly, kept
them from making any big runs.
Michigan got easy baskets in transition.
That kept the Wolverines from hitting an
offensive lag and losing the lead, as
they've been known to do in recent weeks.
"Once we're out on the run and feeling
good and making the right passes, it's
very hard to stop us," Robinson said.
The work isn't done yet though. And
the road gets much tougher from here.
With six games left, no one knows how
many more games the Wolverines will
have to win to get an at-large bid to the
NCAA Tournament.
"We've got to do well all six games, I
feel," Robinson said. "We've got to win
all six games (including today's contest),
or at least be very competitive in all six
games in order, we feel, to be eligible to
go the places we want to go."
Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio
State will all visit the Wolverines in the
See ROSEN, Page 9A

V

SHUBRA OHRI/Daily
Bernard Robinson and Brent Petway.

Penn State guard Marion Smith drives against Michigan forwards

Amaker said. "He really looked to make the extra
pass. He was our catalyst in the second half."
Robinson and the Wolverines were able to push
the ball up the court thanks in no small part to their

defense.
With the Nittany Lions more or less limited to
two guards, Ben Luber and Marlon Smith, the
See NITTANY LIONS, Page 9A

When practice ends, Icers'fun begins

By Sharad Mattu
Daily Sports Writer
Every Michigan hockey practice
follows a similar pattern.
The Wolverines spend around 90
minutes fine-tuning just about any-
thing and everything. For a team with
expectations as high as Michigan's, it's
important that practices run smoothly
and things get accomplished.
They work on special teams and
odd-man rushes, and always make
time for a little conditioning.
The team then congregates at cen-
ter ice, where it chatters and closes
practice with a handful of pushups.
And then, finally, the coaches
leave the ice and the fun begins.
A handful of times, a couple of
players have taken off their gloves
and helmets and duked it out it for a
round or two. If it weren't for the
grins on their faces, an observer
might think the teammates were
truly fighting.

But most days, the spectacle is at
the north end of the Yost Ice Arena,
where sophomore goaltender Al
Montoya and a group of five
Wolverines - yesterday it was
sophomore Andrew Ebbett and jun-
iors Milan Gajic, Eric Nystrom,
Brandon Rogers and Michael
Woodford - play a game that
never fails to result in some rowdy
antics.
Play begins with Woodford firing
a slapshot just inside the blueline.
From there, the puck is live until the
quintet scores a goal or the puck
hits the boards - in which case
Montoya scores. First to make ten
wins.
Montoya usually prevails, but yes-
terday the group of five was victori-
ous, and it enjoyed every moment of
it. After every score, the quintet cel-
ebrated like they would after a goal
in the Frozen Four.
As for the level of difficulty of
the game, both sides claim that the

Goalie Al Montoya oftentakes on
teammates in pick-up games after practice.

game is biased against their side.
"It's a lot easier for a goalie,"
Gajic said. "All (Montoya) has to do
is hit'the puck. into the boards.
That's it. We've got a lot of ground
to cover to keep it from hitting the
boards."
But Montoya shot back with his
own reason for why Gajic thinks
that's the case: "It's because they've
never won a game before. They're
supposed to win every game. They
put together a little powerplay or
something and they're pretty proud
of themselves."
The "powerplay" is a wrinkle
Gajic is proud of.
"We went from a cover-4 to a
cover-3 today," Gajic said with a
smirk. "And we changed up our
pitching style from the point ... we
needed someone behind the net and
along the boards."
In this strategy, when Woodford
fires the puck, instead of the other
four going in front of the net, one
would be at the side along the
boards.
Yesterday's game was filled with
so much emotion that more than a
few times Montoya and Gajic were
wildly swinging their sticks at each
other.
"I like getting Montoya pissed off
and riled up and off his game," Gajic
said. "It's good to finally win one.
"It's fun - but we want to get
him. He's beaten us all year long
pretty much."
While it's mainly just a chance to
grab bragging rights in the locker-
room for a day, the players are actu-
ally practicing important hockey
skills.
"They're right on top of me and
they're firing rocket shots," Mon-
toya said. "It makes me focus get-
ting my stick on (the puck) so I get
it off the ice and on the boards. I try
to put the pucks in the corner
because it means the rebounds
aren't staying in front of the net
where guys can score (easily)."

Senior Vera Simms chose Michigan for its balance of excellent academics and
athletics, even though it meant moving to a much colder climate.
Hawai native Simms
chose 'M' despite cold

BOSTON UNIVERSITY

ENGLISH SPEAKING PROGRAMS

LONDON
SYDNEY
DUBLIN
AUCKLAND
LOS ANGELES
WASHINGTON, D.C.

By Matt Venegoni
Daily Sports Writer
In Mililani, Hawaii, yesterday it was
73 degrees, in Ann Arbor 26 degrees.
Given a choice, most people would
choose the former over the latter. How-
ever, for Vera Simms of the indoor
track team, Michigan was the easy
choice.
When high school students are
choosing where they want to go, aca-
demics is usually the most important
thing, and for athletes the right balance
of athletics and academics. One other
important factor is the weather. For
some people, no matter what, they will
not go to a cold climate. Simms was no
different.
"Initially I said I didn't want to go
to a cold weather climate," Simms
said. "I didn't even know what cold
weather was."

However, Simms saw that Michigan
had the right balance of academics and
athletics for her. Those were enough to
make up for the cold weather.
Luckily for Michigan coach James
Henry and the rest of the track team,
she decided she could deal with the
cold weather. When she arrived though
it was a shock.
"Initially it was hard being away
from home, and it felt so cold,"
Simms said.
But she didn't have time to dwell
on the weather or be homesick. She
was too busy with the indoor and out-
door track seasons. As a freshman she
ran the 400-meter in the Indoor Big
Ten Championships, placing eighth
and ran the 400-meter .hurdles in the
Outdoor Big Ten Championships,
placing seventh.
"I was real busy, so I didn't think
See SIMMS, Page 10A

" Guaranteed internships from over 3,000 active sources
" Customized internship placements; broad selection of courses
" Guaranteed housing in furnished apartments or homestays
" Easy credit transfer
" Full-time administrative staff at all program sites
" Exciting excursions and cultural immersion

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Peace Movement
Was it Peaceful?
In "On Killing,' author Lt. Col.

I

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